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OFFICIALS TO EXAMINE BOOKS AS PIER OWNERS PAY CURRENT TAX BILL

The Pier, which owes more than $1.5 million in back city and county property taxes, paid its current bill this week, but officials still want a better look at its books before deciding if the waterfront bar is abiding by a 1996 bankruptcy order.

City and county officials say The Pier, which is owned by James A. Cosentino and James "Harry" Williams, paid its overdue taxes for 1997-98 and the first half of 1998-99. The city received $43,254 and the county $16,538.

The owners also furnished statements about the bar's financial performance for 1996 and 1997, another requirement contained in the bankruptcy settlement. The bar is required to pay 10 percent of any net profit each year to retire its old tax debt.

The Buffalo News reported last week that the bar at 325 Fuhrmann Blvd. was not meeting the terms of the 1996 bankruptcy agreement and that city and county officials acknowledged they didn't know about its existence.

The order filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court established a 15-year timetable for paying taxes owed from 1990 to 1994 and also required The Pier to stay current on new tax bills as they came due.

City Corporation Counsel Michael Risman and James L. Tuppen, assistant county attorney, said they want to examine further the financial statements filed by The Pier before deciding whether to end default proceedings.

Neither of the documents furnished by The Pier was certified. The bankruptcy agreement does allow the city and county to audit the establishment's books.

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